Johan Brooks: End of Olympics 2020

The biggest sports event on the planet turns into a mixture of political and public health disputes, yet not covered enough by the established media

© Johan Brooks | End of Olympics 2020
© Johan Brooks | End of Olympics 2020

There were many controversies surrounding the Olympic Games in 2020. First and foremost, they were not in 2020, as scheduled, but were put back by a year for the first time in their modern history dating back 125 years.

In the midst of a global pandemic, it was understandable that the postponement was agreed upon as thousands of athletes, trainers and reporters from all over the world gathering in one place could have, quite literally, meant a deadly disaster. The public and global health worries aside, the Olympics turned into a spectacular political power show. At one point the International Olympic Committee told Japan that it would be unable to cancel the games, even if the Japanese government voted to cancel, even if they paid their cancellation fee in the billions. One might wonder how a business organisation, which the IOC ultimately is, can order and meddle with a sovereign nation’s internal affairs?

Visually speaking, the photographs presented here are bursting with color, vibrancy and intensity. As Robert Capa once said, if your photographs are not good enough, you’re not close enough, and it’s abundantly clear that Johan Brooks went right in the center of the protests, which formed his project End of Olympics 2020. The pictures look similar to what one may expect from a World Press Organisation documentary submission, although the colors and contrast could be a touch distracting from the overall subject. A slightly more muted palette would have been a more subtle, albeit less striking choice.

© Johan Brooks | End of Olympics 2020
© Johan Brooks | End of Olympics 2020

Brooks’ project is not only visually powerful but also socially important. Many, myself included, were not aware of protests during the closing ceremony as they were not covered by the media. Incidents were expected during the opening - everything about the 32nd Olympiad was surrounded by controversy, therefore people were understandably angry in the beginning and wished to express their dissatisfaction, perhaps force the organisers to cancel last minute.

Sign up for the newsletter to read this post

We support independent documentary photographers and photojournalists by promoting their work. Read unique documentary stories with our newsletter.

Subscribe to mnngful stories

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.